Monday, January 26, 2009

2009 Jan 26 Patrolling at Royal Gorge

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The brief storm cycle appears to have ended, but it left behind a glorious gift of lightweight powder on the mountains and tree limbs. The wind has been light, so the snow is in great shape, and has adhered well to the older layers as the temperatures have cooled down slowly. Today, the temperatures on the hill were mid- 20's - brisk, but perfect for nordic ski touring.

Basin Peak on the north side of Rt. 80 as seen from Lyle's Lookout. Basin Peak offers great skiing as long as the cornice on the ridge is stable. Approach to Basin Peak is from the Boreal/Donner summit trail head.

This is the view south from "Lyle's Lookout" - a wonderful spur trail at Royal Gorge. Off in the distance is Snow Mountain.

The "Stage Coach" trail passes by this open water that in heavier snow years would be completely buried at this time of year. The low angle sun was making marvelous sparkling reflections off the open lead here - not really captured in this photo. Where the trail crosses the river, a thick snow bridge conveniently conceals the running water, so there is no tricky stepping required.

The open water freezes over before becoming concealed beneath a snow bridge.

Boulders along the Stage Coach trail - one of our most favorite trail sections at the resort. The high alpine terrain, is marvelously open with views of the surrounding peaks. The thick trunked, but sparsely limbed trees are evidence of the harsh conditions at this exposed elevation.

Another view from the Stage Coach trail - with Devil's peak in the distance.

More Stage Coach boulders

A more densely treed portion of the "Killy's Cruise" trail.

As the afternoon wore on, a new storm system blew in from the north east. Here, the low eastern sun is highlight Castle Peak, while the clouds overhead tell of impending precipitation - more snow!!!

Wilderness Warming hut

We returned to the Summit Station Lodge, after closing up the Wilderness warming hut for the night, carrying out the garbage in our backpack, and sweeping trails between there and here for late straglers. As it were tonight, we rounded up three skiers late returning, then immediately went out on the snowmobile to pick up two others who had called in by cell phone to report of their delays on the trail.

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